RIGHT OF REPLY: Atiku Abubakar and the Death of Identity Politics

Atiku...a man to watch out for

By Richard Irikefe

In 2019, what Nigeria does not need is another Northern or Southern candidate or young or old leader or even Christian or Muslim leader.

The politics of identity, i.e. choosing a leader because of his identity rather than his ability, has failed us and will keep failing us for the simple reason that when you have a problem, you don’t look to where the person who can solve it comes from or how he worships his Creator. You just look to whether or not he can solve your problem.

And this is what Shaka Momodu failed to comprehend in his piece, ‘Musings on Atiku For President’, published on the back page of ThisDay on Friday 29th of September, 2017.

Nigeria is at a crossroads. We have been unashamedly and openly divided along the lines of 97% versus 5%. Every effort has been made by the man who considers himself the leader of the 97% to decimate the 5%.

The result has been recession, unprecedented division, a militarization of Nigeria like at no other time since the civil war and a threat to freedom of speech and association.

Those who freely threatened to unleash unprecedented bloodshed on others they termed ‘dog and baboon’ are unable to accept even the mildest criticism and want to give the ‘dog’ the bad name of ‘hate speech’.

Democracy is under threat with the introduction of the term ‘inconclusive election’ into our political lexicon even as aides of presidential declarants are arrested within hours of their declaration.

So thinking that politics of identity is what the situation of Nigeria calls for is an unfortunate situation.

In two years, the All Progressive Congress administration of Muhammadu Buhari has increased Nigeria’s indebtedness and the management of the economy is in fits and starts.

We need someone like an Atiku, who has had years of post retirement career as a successful businessman with a string of successful businesses that predate his re-entry into public service as Vice President in 1999 to help us generate the wealth that we need to avoid the Malthusian Trap that we are currently in.

Simply put, an administration that celebrates the end of recession with a paltry GDP growth rate of 0.55% in a country with a population growth rate of 2.6% obviously lacks the intellectual capacity to understand that unless our economy grows faster than our population, what awaits us is doom!

Obviously Atiku gets it, which was why when they were celebrating he said, and I quote “When all Nigerians can eat three square meals, that’s when the real recession ends. We have work to do.”

Nigeria needs a new leader. A leader who understands the problems of the Nigerian economy and can provide the needed leadership to fix it, create jobs for the scores of unemployed particularly the youth and put food on the table for struggling millions of families.

While the current administration ignores the challenge posed by herdsmen/farmers clashes (which is an economic issue, not a religious/ethnic issue) and whose stupid solution is to “import grass from Brazil”, Atiku Abubakar came up with the brilliant economic solution of setting up RICO Gado, a factory that produces livestock feeds of all types of livestock so our herdsmen can stop grazing and start ranching which will put an end to the clashes and the attendant deaths on both sides.

And what is Shaka’s main grouse about Atiku? Moving from one party to another?

The truth is that Atiku Abubakar has only left a party once not four times as Shaka and other pundits erroneously think. How do I mean? Lets follow the facts.

Atiku never left the Social Democratic Party. The party was dissolved on the 17th of November, 1993 with Atiku being a loyal member up until the day it was made defunct by the late Abacha.

He similarly did not leave the Peoples Democratic Party in 2007. He was pushed out by the re registration exercise engineered by former President Olusegun Obasanjo for the express purpose of kicking out Atiku and his followers.

You cannot remain a member of a party when all your followers, who used to be legitimate and bonafide members of the party, are deregistered and refused re registration. Doing so would mean that you are not a leader.

And on the subject of Obasanjo I think we all know why he spits his venom at Atiku as he stood up to defend our democracy from the threat of dictatorship in the form of Obasanjo’s 3rd term agenda.

And Mr. Momodu is wrong to say that Atiku Abubakar was “was roundly trounced” in 2007. With all due redirect (respect?), Shaka can’t be more Catholic than the pope.

The late President Yar’Adua himself told the then United Nations Secretary General, Ban-Ki Moon in May, 2007 that “the April elections had flaws and shortcomings”.

His successor was even more forthcoming. Speaking about the April 2007 elections in which he became the ultimate beneficiary, former President Jonathan said he was “embarrassed” by the election.

Speaking candidly about the election on April 8, 2014, Dr. Jonathan said “Although we took oath of office and the Supreme Court declared us winners, but each time one travelled abroad, people asked all kinds of questions that even got one angry. That was when I promised myself that if have an opportunity to oversee elections in Nigeria, no other President or Vice President should suffer that can kind of harassment and embarrassment by the international community”.

So if the main beneficiaries of those elections admitted that it was embarrassingly flawed, how can a bystander declare that a man who was cheated in that flawed process was ’roundly trounced’? If anything, Atiku Abubakar was roundly cheated!

Yes, the former Vice President is guilty of leaving the Action Congress after the 2007 elections but that was because the succeeding Umaru Yar’Adua administration had instituted the Justice Mohammed Uwais Electoral Reform Committee which had suggested ways of correcting the electoral excesses of the previous administration.

In fact, that administration reached out to Atiku Abubakar, acknowledged the wrong that the PDP had done to him and his members and then upon the untimely death of President Umaru Yar’adua, his successor, President Jonathan, invited him and his followers to rejoin the party they were kicked out off.

Nigerians, and Shaka it seems, have forgotten that after his return to the Peoples Democratic Party in 2009, Atiku remained loyal to the party even after he lost its Presidential ticket to the then incumbent president at the PDP primaries on January 14, 2011.

The issue we have in Nigeria is that we do not have a sense of history. If we did, it would have been remembered that the PDP became factionalized after the party’s special convention of August 31, 2013.

It was not just Atiku that was affected, seven PDP Governors, the then Speaker of the House of Representatives and more than a hundred Representatives and Senators.

Atiku did not leave the PDP in 2014. It was the PDP that left him and others of the PDP. The party became factionalized with two executives, one calling itself the PDP and the other calling itself the nPDP.

In fact, Atiku stubbornly remained in the PDP until Muhammadu Buhari, Bola Tinubu, Bisi Akande (then the APC interim National Chairman), Ogbonnaya Onu and other leaders of the APC visited him at his house in Abuja on the 19th of December, 2013 to lobby him to join their party as his own party was irreparably factionalized.

So, if you take an objective look at Atiku Abubakar, he may have been in more than one party, but he has always followed the progressive agenda wherever he has gone.

He has in truth only left a party once. He left the Action Congress to return to the PDP, a party he co-founded with other members of the original G-34.

Will he do so again? Well only time will tell as although the APC has belatedly begun to discuss the subject of restructuring, a policy which was in its manifesto it does not appear to be embracing it with any enthusiasm.

And with Professor Sagay’s recent exchange with the leadership of the APC, we now know that the progressive agenda left the APC long ago and the APC of today is not the APC that was formed in 2014.

In 1967, Nigerians said ‘Go on With One Nigeria’. In 2017, they are reechoing that message by saying ‘Go on With the Restructuring of Nigeria’.

Atiku gets that message, which makes him the man tailor-made for the Nigeria of today as he holds dear doing the right thing for our nation more than worrying about whether he is holding a brush, an umbrella or some other object.

And on the issue of restructuring, that is one idea that demonstrates the fidelity of Atiku Abubakar. He has consistently pushed for restructuring since July 13, 2001 when Jide Ajani, then the political editor of Vanguard, chronicled his fight to restructure Nigeria in an editorial titled ‘Nigeria: 6-1 Onshore-Offshore Jurisdiction Verdict’ published on that day.

The only redeemable part of Mr. Momodu’s musings is where he says Atiku “would have made a better choice to Buhari and even the much younger Rabiu Kwankwaso – a man very much like Buhari, a rabid bigot who sees everything from the prism of North vs South and would care less about burning his bridges to promote his narrow ethnic interests over and above national interests.”

Pray, if Atiku is, by Shaka’s own admission, better than the incumbent, why are we still even having an argument when it is obvious that the incumbent, who has taken us backward, rather than forward, is hell bent on coming back?

Mr. Richard Irikefe, a technology consultant, wrote from Lagos.

  • Ify Onabu

    Between the Mullah and Atiku, would it not be better to choose the lesser evil? I guess the lesser evil is Atiku. I do not mind Atiku as President. The man has demonstrated that it is possible to add value to the economy of Nigeria even outside public office. Pray, what has Buhari achieved since he retired from the Nigerian Army?

  • John

    We want a disruptive candidate that will disrupt the establishment; a
    charismatic guy with big dreams, fresh ideas and new thinking to rebuild
    our country, inspire us and renew our hopes; a selfless leader with
    boundless energy for national service. We are tired of these recycled
    aspirants whose loyalty is to the establishment and not the people.
    Without mincing words, Atiku is part of the problems of Nigeria. Many of
    us are taking a dim view of his seductive antics to promote his
    ambition and are looking past him for solutions. He is not the president
    we want.

  • “Korede

    “Mr. Richard Irikefe, a technology consultant, wrote from Lagos.”

    This is strange. We were not taught in School of technology not to be precise. I don’t know if this man really meant to say a political technologist or a technological politician wrote from Lagos.

  • Tea

    How l wish Atiku had won the APC ticket and not this disaster we now have in our hands due to the misdirection of Tinubu and the Yoruba press. But l fear for his age. Nigeria needs leadership from non retired people. 70+ is a no no.
    He should stay in any party of his choice and build/support young leaders.

  • Kunta

    Our Mumu Don Do, Atiku Abubakar is a big risk Nigeria cannot afford to take in 2019, that is what Shaka Momodu clarified in my own opinion. Atiku should please find alternative ways of contributing to the development of Nigeria, as he doesn’t necessary need to be president of the country to make impact. Tony Elumelu (not one of my favourites) and Mo Ibrahim are making positive impacts in their own ways, so also is Rochas Okorocha of Imo (say what you like).

    As rightly suggested by Shaka Momodu, there are similarities between Atiku Abubakar and Jacob Zuma (a big disgrace to the black,race) of South Africa. While the South Africa is relatively a developed country with strong institutions, and can afford a Sani Abacaha, an Ibrahim Babangida, an Idi Amin or other criminals like IBB as president, not talk of Jacob of Zuma, Nigeria cannot afford an Atiku Abubakar, that is a too big risk!

    • babajide Balogun

      I disagree with you. Completely. Atiku is courageous. That’s the metal Presidents are made of. He is resolute. Great Presidents are tough men, women. He has a nose for talent hunt. That’s leadership. He took good care of his old mother, building her a house when he was age 16. That means he’s caring and compassionate. He is a wealth multiplier. That means he know how to build prosperity. He doesn’t pander to ethnic or religious sentiment. Remember how he suppressed the campaign for Islamic Sharia law when he was VP? That means he’s not a bigot.
      Atiku represents the kind of man our country needs at this moment.

    • Netanyahu

      Just keep your PVC. You are entitled to vote whoever you would wish to. MY HOUSEHOLD AND I WILL CAMPAIGN VIGOROUSLY AND VOTE FOR ATIKU ABUBAKAR in 2019, God willing. Heaven forbid I vote for the type of devil again that will turn round to tell me about 97% vs 5%.

  • Godwin Arinze Oyeh

    I think Turaki Atiku has what it takes to be a great President , like him there are few from the north.

  • E.Udah

    Atiku! Atiku!! Atiku!!!
    On which party is he going to run this time?
    APC is obviously not going to surrender their platform to him even if Buhari is not going for reelection.
    He will not be a good moral sell for PDP if indeed they want to relaunch!
    Atiku’s political journey should be a research material for not just political students but for aspirants.
    Stay in and help to build your party. Political prostitution and ‘jumpology’ (apology to Ehiedu Aniagu) should never be encouraged in our polity.

  • KWOY

    To God be the glory! This is to the humiliation of OLUSEGUN ADENIYI, KAYODE KOMOLAFE, ENIOLA BELLO, SAM OMATSEYE, LOUIS ODION, SIMON KOLAWOLE, SEGUN AYOBOLU, JIDE OLUJIWAYINTAN, OLAKUNLE ABIOLA, SONYA ONI, DAN AGBESE, etc etc & the Yoruba community which is hailing the massacre of harmless people in order to spite the Igbo as usual! No northerner is more cosmopolitan or global minded as Atiku! If he is evil, he is the least of all possible evils we know now!

    Every other politician is changing party. So, Atiku changing party should be no special sin!

  • Political Affey

    The politics of identity as you have pointed out has failed us in Nigeria. The reason for that is clear. Those who pushed and rooted for the present crop of politicians did not do so to see Nigeria make progress. They did it to realise their own ambition. Identity politics is intricately woven and hidden in the winner takes all politics
    We have too many people in politics who don’t love Nigeria but self. Let us not pretend that the likes of Atiku have not been in government before. The assessment of what they did or left behind for the PUBLIC is the best judge. Nigerian politicians past and present are very lean on EVIDENCE of dragging their people out of the pit of immiseration. Instead, the push them in further for them to gain more political traction and privilege.
    Politics has become so convoluted in Nigeria that you don’t even trust anyone of these people to make use of their office to serve. They are not even pretending to have any intention to deal with the problem. Yet, we assist them to come into office. To do what? One of the strategies that these politicians have perfected is to remind the Electorate of the degeneration of the system and the need for change.
    We rush to bring them in, relying on their pedigree, believing that their reason for opting for service is to repair and correct.
    Once they put their spin doctors in place after securing power, the rest is history. They will quickly forget what they promised to do, and their overpaid Spin Doctors will start to lie in their favour. Their bodyguards will then have job to do, whipping the broad daylight out of protesters.
    This is the way African politics has ever worked. There will be no change and we know it. So why pretend that Atiku has the magic bullet?

    • chydysam

      Good or bad, we must make a choice and the wisest choice will be to lean towards the best out of the lot based on the circumstance(s) at the time. Nigerians continuous mistakes of dragging unwilling and ill prepared persons to be president have brought us to where we are from 1999. The very current blunder we made is making an extremely sentimental person without proper education a president. Atiku is best suited to be president of Nigeria in our present circumstance. His record as former vice president is good, he is a proven pure democrat, he has full grasp and knowledge of the 21st century world economic trends, he is detribalised, he currently has the best political structures across the length and breathe of Nigeria that guarantee political stability, he is the highest employer of labour amongst politicians, he is a unifier. Inspite of all the noise about his allegedly being corrupt, no case of corruption has been officially established against him neither has he been convicted of any, he hires best hands for specific jobs, etc. Let’s not use the corruption scare tactics to make Nigeria miss another good opportunity of an Atiku presidency. We must stop embracing those who divide us and destroy our economy, and start embracing those that unite us and build our economy.

  • Matthew Oye

    Honestly, Atiku is the best choice for Nigeria for now. I have been saying this for sometime Atiku know how to select talents- the best limbs to work is bringing back the economy into shape and make progress. The present administration’s back- and- forth and back system of government is not good for this great nation. PMB ministers are lame ducks. We need forward thinking people to be in government including those of us relocating back to Nigeria from the diaspora. Atiku cannot be hijacked by cabals. The bigotry and nepotism in this government is unbelievable. Only family and known friends are offered appointments. Never unknown people like us from the village. All that will change during Atiku government.

    • karlheinzbergemann@yahoo.com

      I believe you. Out of the lot out da, he is who Nigeria needs 2019. But just as abami eda fela kuti once sang……..shoout tey dem no hear…. afrikans always make wrong decisions when it concerns their nation .

  • Harry

    Atiku to my knowledge is a detribalised Nigerian who will build bridges of unity across Nigeria and also set up a formidable economic team to take Nigeria out of the doldrums being perpetrated by Buhari and his cabal. Despite the unproven smear campaigns, Atiku stands taller than any other candidate from the North.

  • James Gunn

    If not for the corruption baggage dragging Atiku down and his age (which is too old IMO) I feel he is the best bet amongst all the potential candidates coming from the north. I don’t trust Sanusi because I still think he will focus more on the north with projects and appointments. Atiku will ensure an acceptable balance in projects and ensure federal character parameters in his appointments. But alas, the corruption tag is heavy.

    • Pot and kettle

      We face three scenarios namely; corruption and competence which is Atiku, massive corruption and significant incompetence which is GEJ, and a fair dose of corruption and a massive dose of incompetence which we face today. Which would you go with?

      • KWOY

        I pity your race! It will remain an object of mockery forever! Who are you going to SPITE between the three now? And why is it that you are talking abt ‘we face today’? You are too ashamed to name names! I pity your ugly, dirty race which despite centuries of education is CAPABLE of NOTHING except SPITE & ENVY!

        • Pot and kettle

          What other name do you want to hear when I said “we face today”?

      • austin

        But GEJ is not on the menu na

    • MDG2020

      Can you PLEASE for God sake mention just ONE corruption case, pending or strucked out against Atiku Abubakar? I will rather have Atiku as my Vice President, than stand the the sight the hypocrite rev-pastor-elder-midget-vp who calls himself the vp to the daura dullard.
      Why do nigerians love tales by market square Kwarrapson allegation, as against Facts and Figures?
      1. The most wanted CRIMINAL in Nigeria today: Dieziani, have been begging to be joined in suits instituted against her allies, Yet she is being denied this INALIENABLE RIGHT. YET SHE STOLE TRILLIONS, YET A FREE WOMAN IN UK!
      2. The second most KWARRAPT nigerian: DASUKI, have been languishing in indefinite detention, DENIED his right of DEFENSE and COURT APPEARANCE. YET he was the INEXUSTIBLE ATM of KWARRAPSON. Haba!
      3. The third most KWARRAPT nigeria: Mama Peace, have been the one freely moving from one court in Nigeria to the other, trying to clear allegations against her. Yet NO SINGLE court action have been filed against her by the KKWARRAPSON fighting dullards from the “nut”.
      4. The GODFATHER of KWARRAPSON: GEJ, remains a free man HOME and ABROAD delivering POLICY PAPERS all over the GLOBE UNMOLESTED! Yet he is the most KWARRAPT LIVING PRESIDENT! Heeeeee!
      To be continued……….

      • KWOY

        And lest we forget, the race of ugly, dirty, cowardly people claimed Ihejirika was a sponsor of Boko Haram when they were playing their game of spite against GEJ! This time, they are hailing the Dullard & Terrorist from Daura for moving down armless youths in order to spite the Igbo, & hounding the US, EU, UK, Saraki & all others who are pitching tent with the side of truth!

  • Lawrenece Ifo

    Leaving a party in this environment do not reduce the person because it an unfortunate accepted political practice.

    But if you compare Atiku as person , his patent world view with that of others,he is completely different from all those insula and quota product,who saw no wrong in using quota to advance their social mobility,knowing fully well that it flies in the face of the equality principle,but still expect the victims of inequality to consciously share the same country with them and with them at the head. It cannot be so!

    • Kwenu ifo,you have crawled here,better behave!,lest i forget where is kanu?.

      • Lawrenece Ifo

        Kanu is where he is and Biafra have moved to the mainstream of the global public discourse.

        Where is your change?

        • Go and hide your filthy face,your hero a bloody coward had gone underground,and you still have mouth!.biafra ko biafra ni.

          • Obi Ike Sorres

            Are you a stupid man to fight a man with a loaded gun? Kanu is not. A wise man live to fight another day

          • Netanyahu

            Please leave Kanu out of this. This is a serious issue. We entered one chance in 2015 and have been begging the driver to let us out alive without success. Kanu may be Nigeria’s metaphor. Begin to campaign for Atiku right away. He is the only escape from the northern jihadists otherwise you will wish Kanu was around.

          • Are you drunk?,Atiku do you know the meaning of the name in my dialect ,’a ti ku’ mean we are dead!..over my dead body,never would support the man for anything,he is the poster star of corruption by the elites,quote me anywhere!.